As Biden clinches nomination, looking back at the DNC and its messages of unity

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Members of a South Asian community in Edison, New Jersey watch vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris speak at the Democratic National Convention. The DNC was a virtual event due to the coronavirus outbreak. August 19, 2020. Photo credit: Roshni Khatri/Handout via Reuters

Former vice president Joe Biden accepted the Democratic nomination for president Thursday night. The four-day virtual Democratic National Convention was unlike anything seen in American politics before -- setting the stage for the Republican National Convention next week.  

KCRW talked about this week’s convention and looks ahead to the RNC with Sahil Kapur, national political reporter for NBC News, Cristina Jiménez, co-founder of United We Dream Action, and Tara Setmayer, a conservative political commentator. 

Kapur says this year’s convention was designed to debunk President Trump’s recent attacks on Biden, including those that label him as senile or too left-leaning.

“The purpose of the convention was to avoid alienating people, to offer a kind of unity themed message of hope and healing and optimism and try to win as many people who are skeptical of President Trump,” Kapur says.

The convention also featured prominent Republican voices, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Ohio Governor John Kasich. Setmayer says their presence at the DNC gavegaives voice to Republicans who might feel unhappy with Trump as president.

“It was smart to include those voices because it was giving cover to the people who voted for Trump the first time around because they didn't find Hillary Clinton palatable,” she says. “They held their nose and voted for Trump [in 2016], but they're dissatisfied with the failures of his administration.”

The DNC also did not prominently feature many Latino politicians. That includes the absence of former HUD Secretary Julian Castro during a roundtable of former Democratic presidential candidates.

Jiménez says Biden will need Latino voters in the election, and it was concerning to see a lack of Latino representation at the convention. 

“For the Latino electorate, this is a life- or- death situation. Trump must be defeated,” Jiménez says.

She notes it will’ll be important for Biden to talk directly to issues that speak to Latino voters, such as Medicare-for-All, COVID-19 and immigration.

“It is not just enough to say that he's against many of the terrible, inhumane and horrific policies of this administration, but to actually speak about the policies that will make it different: stopping deportation, reuniting families,” she says. “Immigration it's not the only issue Voters care about, but it's certainly the issue that is connected to Latino voters’ hearts and communities and families.”

Looking ahead to the RNC next week, Kapur says the event will be centered around Trump’s voter base. 

“The whole convention is going to be about praising President Trump — about touting his achievements, about speaking to the hardcore Trump supporters: who Rrepublicans believe that if they can just supercharge turnout and big enough numbers, they could probably get him another four years in office,” he says.

Credits

Guests:
Sahil Kapur - national political reporter for NBC News - @sahilkapur, Tara Setmayer - conservative political commentator, Cristina Jiménez - immigrant justice advocate and co-founder of United We Dream Action

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Michell Eloy, Rosalie Atkinson, Brian Hardzinski, Angie Perrin, Caleigh Wells